Ironic you mention that comparison, as I LITERALLY just wrote it in last minute (as in about 5 minutes before posting it). I figured people would be quite interested in that comparison, which I somehow completely forgot to consider until now.
edit: Added to this post, to have both reviews on one page.
AKG K712 Pro
Street Price: $379
Where To Buy: Amazon.com
Review (Click to show)
The K712 Pro, the latest and greatest AKG headphone to supersede the (in)famous 7xx line (K701, K702, Q701, K702 65th Anniversary Edition being the previous models) as AKG's best mid-fi headphone. I have been wondering just how different the K712 Pro is to my dearly departed K702 65th Anniversary. Turns out, not much (I wouldn't doubt that some people would find them near identical), but there are differences, however subtle they may be. Also need to mention that my K702 Anniversary was one of the earlier ones sold that had flatter/shorter pads, which may be the main difference between the Annie and K712's sonic differences. The K712 Pro had a lot to live up to, seeing as the Annie is more or less my favorite open dynamic headphone to date.
I'll basically paste what I've said about the K702 65th Anniversary, as the build is absolutely identical to the Annie. The only differences between the color differences (Annie is gunmetal with blue bars and accents, K712 Pro is black with orange bars and accents).
Made of a durable plastic, and well thought out design, I find the build quality to be great. I wouldn't toss them around haphazardly, but they'd definitely survive some abuse. The detachable cable is like the non-Anniversary models, which isn't the thickest I've seen, but certainly very malleable, flexible, and light. It certainly does it's job, though I would have expected a more rugged, or fancier cable for these higher priced variants.
Compared to the non-Anniversary models of the K701/K702/Q701, the headband is thinner in width when viewed from the top/bottom, with a widening of the area where the AKG branding is located. The biggest difference (and it's incredibly significant), is that the underside of the headband no longer has the notorious (7-8) bumps, and is instead completely smooth. This basically turns the K712 Pro from a torture device to a very comfortable headphone. There is no padding, but it is mostly unnecessary as the headband perfectly molds to your head, distributing pressure evenly across where it rests. The bumped headbands were notorious for digging into the scalp, especially on the center one or two bumps. Why it took AKG this long to rectify this issue the vast majority of people had is beyond me, but it's finally done.
The headband also has the added benefit of allowing bigger heads to fit due to less stiffness, and more space. Prior to the K712 Pro and K702 Anniversary, I basically needed the other models to be fully extended for them to fit my head. This caused a lot of tight, downwards pressure, which in addition to the hard bumps, didn't lead to the most comfortable headband design. It took me a few days to adjust to the older models, and I didn't find them as problematic as most people still do.
The pads are the second most significant change from the older models. They are made of memory foam inside velour. Very dense and molds to your head shape MUCH more than the older model pads. This causes a better seal, which is more than likely the main reason why the sound signature is warmer, and more bassy (from my experience with using a Q701 with the Annie pads, I found the Q701 to sound 99.9% the same as the Annie, with a slightly brighter tone which may have just been driver variation).
Velvet carrying pouch: One of the best carrying pouches I've seen bundled with headphones. It's thick and feels great, though it won't protect a headphone from much except dust and scuff/scratches.
Long coiled cable (black)
Straight cable (orange) w/6.3mm screw on adapter
As previously mentioned, due to the new headband and new pads, the K712 Pro has made a noticeable boost in comfort over the older models. The headband change is significant for comfort. The removal of the dreaded bumps would basically satisfy ANYONE who had issues with them on the older models, and even those that don't have issues with the bumps.
The pads are arguable, as the standard 7xx pads, while more firm, breathed a little easier than the new memory foam velours. In either case, neither are sweat inducing or uncomfortable, personally. The new memory foam pads molds to the shape of one's head, leading to no uneven pressure. I find the older models to be not as uncomfortable as most people would lead to believe, but the K712 Pro would more than likely satisfy those who have problems with the older pads.
The K712 pro is easily one of the most comfortable full-sized headphones I've ever worn.
There really isn't anything to complain about with the K712 Pro. If anything, some may not particularly like how big the cups are, but that's the nature of a full-sized over ear headphone. AKG has more or less perfected their 7xx design, fixing all of the previous issues people had with them (headband bumps being the main problem). The only thing I can see improving upon this design is to add some padding underneath the currently bare headband strap, which would further drive the comfort towards perfection.
The K712 Pro is a fully open headphone, and as such, it is expected not to perform well for noise isolation/leakage. As I mention time and time again, reports of open headphone's leak tend to be severely exaggerated. Yes, you may bother someone in the same room, but never someone in another room, even with the door open. Unless you need absolute silence in the same room, open headphones don't leak so loud as to bother most people, possibly even if they were in the same room.
People will undoubtedly complain about the incremental improvements constantly being made to their 7xx drivers, but to those who haven't experienced every little upgrade (or even those who have) will find the K712 Pro to be the their strongest headphones yet based on their 7xx drivers. What you get in the K712 Pro is the most musical, and fleshed out variant, with a noticeable addition of bass, warmth, and pleasing tonality. AKG had previously made most of these improvements with the K702 65th Anniversary (aka Annie), but the Annie had some trade offs, particularly in the sense of spaciousness (not necessarily soundstage itself), and upper range clarity and detail (which were slightly lessened due to a smoother, less fatiguing upper range). The Annie was a slightly different flavor of the K712 Pro sound, with a thicker body of sound, more intimacy, and smoother, slightly more organic sound. I'm exaggerating the differences, as they are subtle, but a good ear can tell them apart.
The K712 is the perfect middle ground between the standard 7xx airy sound, and the Annie's warmer, more fluid presentation.
NOTE: I'm basing my assessment of the Annie with it's ORIGINAL memory foam pads, which AKG has since replaced with a taller memory foam. The new pads on the Annie may have closed the gap even more between the two headphones to the point where it may be harder to discern the differences in sound quality. I haven't heard the Annie with new pads, so I can't personally confirm. Just something to keep in mind, in case those with a newer Annie don't agree with what I say here.
The K712 pro's bass is quite well balanced and always present, favoring midbass over sub bass (which rolls off a little compared to the K612 Pro which maintains it's bass to very low levels, though isn't energetic and forward as the K712 Pro). The bass is full, fluid, and rich, creating some warmth and body to the meat of the K712's sound. Because the bass is very, very similar to the K702 Annie's bass, I will quote most of what I said about those, with a few edits:
Sound-wise, this is the most significant change coming off the older models. The K712 Pro presents bass quite well. You can consider it mildly above neutral. Natural if the source doesn't have a need for bass, and quite full and involving when the need for bass is there. Overall, the bass can be quite full, layered, textured, and infectious.
What it improves over the standard models is that the bass is no longer situational. It doesn't just hit with really bass heavy songs. It hits at all times, in a very natural way. Put on a bassy track, movie, game, etc, and the K712 Pro will impress. Make no mistake. I've always found the Q701, and particularly, the old K701 to be slightly below neutral. The bass would decay too quickly, and wouldn't hit with enough energy to give a sense of naturality. No longer an issue with the K712 Pro. Unless you're a basshead, I don't think there will be much to complain about here. If you like accurate, yet full bass, the K712 pro will impress.
The K712 Pro's mids sit between the 7xx's mids and the Annie's more upfront and intimate presentation. The K712's mids sound pushed back in comparison to the Annie, though not pushed back in the way of recession, but more because the soundstage is large and nothing is exactly upfront and in your face. The lower mids are aided by the lean towards bass that the K712 has, which results in a warm, and tonally realistic voicing compared to the standard 7xx and even the incredibly balanced K612 Pro, which comes of a little dry in direct comparison.
The one downside I see in the mids is that the patented AKG upper mids peak is still somewhat present, causing certain sounds to have an artificial etch to them, and seem out of place next to the K712 Pro's general warmth and smoothness. It isn't as pronounced as the standard 7xx models however, and the warm tonality and fleshed out signature of the K712 mitigate the fatigue a bit compared to the standard 7xx.
All in all, the K712's mids are more or less balanced with the rest of the sound, and are never lost or masked.
The K712's treble maintains a level of sparkle some found lacking on the Annie. The treble is generally smooth with some upper end peak as usual of the 7xx line, cutting off some extension as well as the fatigue that can be associated with too much treble in those ranges. The K712's treble adds some much beneficial air to the soundstage, as well as clarity and detail which isn't typical of warm/smooth headphones (which tend to roll off in the treble range).
I personally have to say that I really love the K712's treble as it isn't an everyday occurrence to find warm headphones that sparkle in the same way as the K712. I also love the original Annie's smoother, less fatiguing presentation, but it did come across more subdued. I'd say the K712's treble is generally more favorable, and more likely to please most people.
While the original Annie had a large soundstage, the thicker body of sound and smoother treble made the soundstage sound more restricted and congested compared to the standard 7xx and K712. The K712's soundstage is spacious, and excels particularly in width. The soundstage is dimensional, holographic, and layered. The K612 Pro didn't have the same dimensionality and layering in direct comparison, despite it's large size.
A large soundstage, generally linear balance, and great detail is a recipe for success. The K712 excels in positional cues, much like the standard 7xx line, but with more body, and fullness. One can argue that it won't be as masterful for competitive gaming focus due to the standard 7xx model's tilt towards analyzing and detail-retrieval, but the K712 doesn't give up much in the way of those things, and adds in extra immersion. If I had to choose one or the other, I would still choose the K712 Pro for the sum of all it's benefits which far outweigh the few benefits the standard 7xx has over the K712.
Objectively speaking, the standard 7xx models as well as the K612 Pro have a clearer tonality over the warmer, more musical K712 Pro. That being said, the refinement, musicality, and tonality of the K712 Pro is more natural sounding and realistic in comparison. The standard 7xx sounds artificially boosted for clarity, which may be good for raw detail, but bad for enjoyment. The K712 has excellent clarity, and I don't feel like I'm losing much of anything when choosing the K712 over the standard 7xx models.
The K712 Pro doesn't require much to sound fantastic, but as with all 7xx models, they scale up with better gear and amping. I would recommend a decent desktop amp for these. That being said, I enjoyed the K712 Pro with the Fiio E12, and didn't feel I needed much more. I can easily live quite happily with the K712 Pro and FiiO E12.
Movies, Music, In General? Yes
The K712 Pro, is among my very favorite headphones I have ever heard, and currently my favorite open dynamic for all around use, even over the Philips Fidelio X1. If you're looking for the best all-rounder under $400, the K712 is my ABSOLUTE top recommendation. While I prefer the original Annie (flatter pads) for certain things (the mids and intimacy for music), the K712 has a better sound signature due to a clearer upper range and better sense of space which will benefit a larger amount of media, including gaming.
The only thing holding me back from giving the K712 Pro a full recommendation is that you can get a standard 7xx, and if you order some K712 pads for it, it essentially becomes a cheaper Annie/K712 Pro alternative for around $100 less than the Annie and K712 normally go for. It may not be completely identical, but it will be close. You also get the benefit of having both the standard and K712 pads for easy swapping and tonality change. Your mileage may vary as driver variation needs to be taken into account. If doing this, I recommend the K702 over the K701 and Q701, due to the newer K702 having a bumpless headband.
I have made quite a few comparisons throughout the review, but I'll add a brief comparison for some headphones:
K612 Pro: The K712 Pro is warmer, more holographic, dimensional, layered, and wider in soundstage. It outshines the K612 Pro in handling more complex music, and comes off as the more musical and dynamic of the two. The K712 Pro has a stronger, faster punch in bass, but rolls off earlier, while the K612 Pro reaches quite low, despite having less impact. The K712 Pro sounds more refined and controlled, with less grain up top, and overall on a higher level in most aspects. The K712 is noticeably more comfortable due to a thinner, softer headband, and memory foam pads. It is also less amp dependent. I recommend the K712 Pro, for it's broader appeal, refinement, and versatility.
Standard 7xx: The standard K701/K702/Q701 are all more dry, less natural, brighter, more analytical, and more airy. You trade off the K712 Pro's musicality and organic tone for more clarity and detail retrieval. I'd choose the K712 Pro over the standard 7xx models 9 out of 10 times. However, as mentioned earlier, having a standard 7xx and adding some 712 pads will give you a similar sound to the K712 with the ability to swap back to the default 7xx sound, all for around $100 less. I would personally still go with the K712 Pro, due to the thinner headband. The K702 seems to have a thick headband like the K612 Pro's, which is noticeably less comfortable for me compared to the Annie and K712 headband.
K702 65th Anniversary: The original Annie had flatter/shorter pads which made the sound a bit more intimate than the K712 Pro. The newer Annie seems to have the same exact pads as the K712 Pro, and I've heard they sound more or less identical by quite a few people. Logical assumption would be that this is mostly true, as the original Annie was already very, very close to the K712 Pro's sound, and if the new pads are now the same as the K712, it should further make them more similar rather than different. This does not mean they are exactly identical, but it should definitely be close.
Philips Fidelio X1: The X1 has a decidedly stronger mid bass, with a generally linear response afterwards. Both sport large soundstages, with the K712 Pro being less congested. The K712 Pro is noticeably less bloated in the bass (which on the X1 can sound a bit sluggish and boomy in comparison). The X1 is what I would consider a cheaper alternative to the K712 Pro, if you prefer a stronger bass emphasis out of your headphones. Both are great all-rounders, and I wouldn't lose any sleep recommending either of them.
The K712 Pro has proven to be the best mid level AKG headphone in terms of musicality, refinement, and organic tonality. Yes, it doesn't stray far from that well known 7xx sound, but it eliminates most of what people disliked about them, while adding nearly all the things that were lacking (bass, warmth, organic sound). If you happen to like the standard 7xx and wished for more warmth, bass, and musicality, with less upper mid/lower treble fatigue, the K712 Pro demands your attention. I admit I was skeptical at first, seeing how much I love the original Annie and heard that the K712 reduced the intimacy. My fears were quelled, as the K712 gained it's own benefits over the smoother, original Annie, mainly in the addition of air/less congestion and upper range clarity.
I'm actually quite in love with the K712 Pro overall, and I find it to be a great endgame headphone for those without deep pockets. It's a safe bet to say that the K712 Pro is a headphone that I can recommend to practically anyone and everyone.
Edited by Mad Lust Envy - 4/17/14 at 2:25am